My relationship with the Star Wars expanded universe hasn’t been a close one. I’ve often wondered why the two of us don’t get on as well as we should. I’ve pondered the reason why we are like passing ships in the night. There should be no reason why we don’t have a more stable and close relationship. But there it is. Each of us only occasionally open the door to one another’s universe.
One theory I have for this glancing relationship takes me back to the first time I was introduced to Star Wars all those decades ago in 1977. For years after my first viewing at the cinema, my only aim in regards of my Star Wars fix was increasing my Kenner Star Wars figure collection and completing my Topps trading card set. Even by the time Return of the Jedi came around in ‘83 I was still collecting Kenner/Palitoy products and getting frustrated in not completing my Panini sticker album.
Now you may be asking why has this stopped me from exploring the expanded universe of Star Wars? Well my expanded universe as a kid was my figure collection. I would spend hours making up my own stories using my figures, Millennium Falcon and Mini-rigs. Any figures I didn’t own usually were substituted with another figure from another franchise (The Black Hole’s Maximilian usually got used as the Empires latest baddie.) If no substitute was available then that character was usually “written out” of my story. Lando was kidnapped and nowhere to be seen and The Emperor was in hiding. My play time with these figures produced what I considered to be complex stories for the time and I even ended my playtime on a climatic event, a cliffhanger that would be picked up on the next play time.
So the early years of my Star Wars fascination was occupied with this routine. I may have read the odd Star Wars comic or read the Marks & Spencer’s movie adaptation annual but my heart was with these toys.
Later on in my Star Wars life I realised there was a huge collection of original novels out there but at no time was I drawn to them. The Star Wars books were not a big part of my life unless it was books on the making of the movies. I loved to read as I was growing up but I was more drawn to original novels, behind the scenes books and biographies. Actually the only time I have looked to an expanded universe for answers was actually Star Trek (Sorry!) After seven years of watching Voyager I was so displeased with the ending I needed to know more, so when I heard there was going to be two novels that continued the story straight after the ending of the show I had to get them. This was and still is the only time I’ve actively seeked out an expanded universe story.
I am a huge videogame enthusiast and I realise that technically the Star Wars games are classed as being part of the expanded universe, and this I would consider my closest involvement with the EU. It may contribute in a strange way with my continued lack of closeness to the EU in later years. I’ve played every Star Wars game on the PC and Xbox and loved them all. Okay maybe not the Kinect one. Getting my Star Wars fix away from the movies and The Clone Wars has often been achieved by video games. My virtual Kenner toys so to speak.
So here I am now in current time and I have more involvement with Star Wars than ever before and yet my relationship with the expanded universe still feels a bit forced (no pun intended.) I love reading graphic novels on my kindle and phone. I continue to read novels but Star Wars is often overlooked, instead choosing the likes of Gaiman or Pratchett. I recently read the Thrawn trilogy and although I enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away. Same with the recent Darth Maul graphic novel. I listen to a number of Star Wars podcasts, (Coffee With Kenobi being my first choice) and often see the subject of the week being discussed is the latest novel or graphic novel. They sound good but I’m looking for that same fix I had all those years ago as a kid. I am looking for my modern day Kenner playtime. So am I missing out on some classic Star Wars or is it okay to leave the EU alone? Can I be regarded as a true Star Wars fan if I don’t have a permanent residence in the EU universe? What do you recommend?